In the present scenario, obesity is the major public    health problem with about 1.9 billion adults (18 years and older) worldwide are overweight and about 600 million of them are clinically obese

By Sadia Batool, Saba Batool, Syed Asad Raza Naqvi


It is a condition in which a person has such an excess of body fat that as a result their risk of ill health is significantly increased.

  • BMI (Kg/height2) greater than 30
  • Waist-hip ratio greater than 1.0 (male), 0.85 (woman)
  • DEXA measures of body fat, which should be no more than 25% (male) , 30% (female)

Plainly: these are just tests, and the issue is always how close the connection is with a significant increase in risk of morbidity.


The words ‘obese’/‘obesity’ come to English via French from the Latin, where the verb ‘obedere’ means ‘over eat’ and ‘obesitas’ means being very fat.


The terms are nicely combined in a 17th century Protestant denunciation of ‘the fatnesse of monks, and the obeseness of Abbotts’

Main health risks of obesity

Type II diabetes

Cardio-vascular disorder

Certain cancer


Obesity is characterized by increase in adipose cell size which is determined by amount of fat accumulated in the cytoplasm of adipocytes. This change in the metabolism in the adipocytes is regulated by various enzymes such as fatty acid synthase, lipoprotein lipase and adipocyte fatty acid-binding protein. Obesity is a complex health issue to address, it is a serious and chronic disease that can have a negative effect on many systems in your body. Overweight and obesity may increase the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis and certain cancers. Obesity is increasing at an alarming rate throughout the world. Today it is estimated that there are more than 300 million obese people world-wide. Obesity is regarded as a disorder of lipid metabolism and the enzymes involved in this process could be targeted selectively for the development of anti-obesity drugs. However, most of the anti-obesity drugs that were approved and marketed have now been withdrawn due to serious adverse effects. The naturopathic treatment for obesity has been explored extensively since ancient times and gaining momentum in the present scenario. Traditional medicinal plants and their active phytoconstituents have been used for the treatment of obesity and their associated secondary complications. Some active medicinal plants and their respective bioactive compounds were also tested by clinical trials and are effective in treatment of obesity.

Anti-Obesity Potential Plants

Mainly belongs to thefamily Leguminoseae, Lamiaceae, Liliaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Asteraceae, Moraceae, Rosaceae and Araliaceae. Majority of the studies indicates decrease in body weight or body weight gain in animals and humans with or without changes in body fat indicating anti-obesity effects. The anti-obesity effects such as body weight reduction, decrease in the levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein cholesterol with simultaneous increase in high density lipoprotein cholesterol was observed in the animals treated with the plants.

Achyranthes aspera (Amaranthaceae)

Artemisia iwayomogi (Compositae)

Camellia oleifera(Theaceae)

Cheilanthes albomarginata (Pteridaceae)

Coffea arabica (Rubiaceae)

Hibiscus cannabinus (Malvaceae)

Hypericum silenoides (Hypericaceae)

Olea europaea (Oleaceae)

Nitraria retusa(Nitrariaceae)

Petasites japonicus(Compositae)

Phyllostachys edulis


Rubus fruticosus (Rosaceae)


Different methods have been used to reduce body weight and its complications for many years. Disappointing results after cessation the lifestyle modification or pharmacotherapy compelled the researchers and physicians to rethink to find a new, safe, and striking therapeutic alternative for this global health concern. Herbal medicines have been in attention as an effective option to reduce body weight and body fat, Nigella sativa, Camellia synensis, green tea, and black Chinese tea were found to have acceptable anti-obesity effects. Furthermore, there have been some reports on anti-oxidative stress effects of some of these plants which may be important in the management of other diseases accompanying with obesity like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. By now, only one anti-obesity drug called orlistat have been approved by the US food and drug administration for long-term treatment in obese patients. Recent researches show different medications having anti-obesity effects by several mechanisms, including exenatide a glucagon-like peptide [GLP] acting as an incretin hormone, Lorcaserin a novel selective serotonin 2C (5-HT2C) receptor agonist that modulates food intake in hypothalamus and PYY 3–36 and oxyntomodulin, a glucagon-like peptide 1(GLP-1) receptor agonist that regulate food intake. The need to discover anti-obesity drugs having better efficacy and lower adverse effect is still felt. The results of this kind of studies can be helpful for pharmaceutical industries to study on the components of these herbs and investigate further to find a mixture of those components with higher efficacy. Furthermore, further well-designed clinical trials are still needed to focus on both safety and efficacy of these herbal medicines.